shelf

noun

plural shelves ˈshelvz How to pronounce shelf (audio)
1
a
: a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objects
b
: one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structure
c
: the contents of a shelf
the author of a shelf of bestsellers
2
: something resembling a shelf in form or position: such as
a
: a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submerged
b
: a flat projecting layer of rock
c
: the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf
shelfful noun
shelflike adjective
Phrases
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order
off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness

Example Sentences

Put the vase on the shelf. the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet Will you get that book down off the shelf? We don't have much shelf space.
Recent Examples on the Web The top has a glossy white finish, and the shelf and legs are made of real and manufactured wood. Lauren Taylor, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Feb. 2023 Glass jars filled with aromatics and spices lined a shelf at eye level. Pat Tanumihardja, Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2023 Dyllan has added other personal touches, like this bedside shelf for holding her phone and morning coffee. Kimberley Mok, Treehugger, 31 Jan. 2023 Along with a fierce corset that can snatch your waist, this BB features adjustable straps and a supportive shelf bra. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 30 Jan. 2023 At the opposite end of the room, Coleman sourced a shelf from Rejuvenation to add storage while simultaneously framing the home’s original octagon window. Chantal Lamers, House Beautiful, 30 Jan. 2023 Attorney James Ellenson told The Associated Press that his understanding is that the gun was in the mother's closet on a shelf well over 6 feet high and had a trigger lock that required a key. Ben Finley And Denise Lavoie, USA TODAY, 30 Jan. 2023 Attorney James Ellenson told The Associated Press that his understanding is that the gun was in the mother’s closet on a shelf well over 6 feet high and had a trigger lock that required a key. Denise Lavoie, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Jan. 2023 Double your function with a design that features a garden bed on top and a shelf for supplies on the bottom. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 30 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of shelf was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near shelf

Cite this Entry

“Shelf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shelf. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

shelf

noun
plural shelves ˈshelvz How to pronounce shelf (audio)
1
: a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set parallel to and above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold objects
2
: something (as a sandbar or ledge of rock) that suggests a shelf
shelflike adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on shelf

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